Medvedev Ends Five-Match Losing Skid To Sinner, Returns To Wimbledon Semifinals

Daniil Medvedev (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 9, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

What Daniil Medvedev was unable to accomplish at the Australian Open, losing after squandering a 2-sets-to-zero lead against Jannik Sinner, he made up for against the World No. 1 from Italy at the Wimbledon Championships on a rainy Tuesday.

Playing on Centre Court with the roof closed, Medvedev gained his revenge against the top-seeded Sinner, winning a thrilling quarterfinal match, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, in four hours. The victory for the fifth seed from Russia snapped a five-match losing streak against Sinner, which also included a straight-set loss in the Miami Open title match in March. It was the Italian’s first loss since becoming No. 1 after winning his first major at Melbourne last January. Sinner came into the quarterfinal tussle with a Tour-leading 42 victories this season.

At a set apiece and 1-2 in the third set, Sinner had his pulse checked by a doctor on court before he left the court to be administered further treatment. Soon, Sinner returned and continued, but he wasn’t the same player who won the 59-minute opening set. He could be seen with his head in his towel during some of the changeovers.

Medvedev went to work and took advantage of his weakened opponent the rest of the match. His 55 winners, which included 15 aces, contributed to his seventh career win against Sinner. It was just the fourth loss of the 2024 season for Sinner, who hit 61 winners and actually outpointed Medvedev 164-160.

“I knew if I was going to beat Jannik it was going to be a tough match,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “He is not a guy you are going to beat easily. At one moment he wasn’t feeling too good but he started playing better and I am happy I managed to stay at a high level. There were some great points, it was a great match and I am happy to win and I am looking forward.”

In his post-match news conference, Sinner explained he tried to fight with what he had.

“Already this morning I didn’t feel great. I had some problems,” he said. “Then with the fatigue, it was tough. But take nothing away from Daniil. I think he played very smart. He played good tennis. That’s it. I went off the court. I didn’t want to go off. The physio told me it was better to take some time because he watched me and I didn’t seem in shape to play. I was struggling physically. It was not an easy moment. I tried to fight with what I had today.

“I was not feeling great. I didn’t vomit. But I took some time because I was dizzy quite a lot. Off court, I had the toughest time. When I went back, I tried my best.”

The World No. 5 Medvedev’s victory advanced him into his ninth major semifinal — and second straight at Wimbledon. He’s in search of his first major triumph since winning the 2021 US Open title. On Friday, he will play defending Wimbledon champion and this year’s third seed Carlos Alcaraz.

The 20-year-old Spaniard defeated 12th seed Tommy Paul of the United States, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, in three hours and 11 minutes on No. 1 Court with the roof closed.

Alcaraz overcame 37 unforced errors by hitting 36 winners. He benefited from 51 unforced errors by Paul and broke his opponent’ serve eight times in 27 opportunities. Alcaraz outpointed Paul 139-116.

“He has been playing great tennis on grass. He won Queen’s and has been doing great stuff here at Wimbledon, beating great players,” Alcaraz said of Paul, who lost on British grass for the first time after winning nine straight, during his on-court interview. “Of course today was a really difficult match for me.

“At the beginning, the first set and the beginning of the second set, it kind of felt like I was playing on clay. Big rallies, 10 to 15 shots every point. So I had to stay strong mentally when I lost the first set. It was difficult for me a little bit, but I knew it was a long journey, a long match, and I just had to stay there. I’m really happy to find the solutions and the good path.”

Going into their Friday semifinal, Alcaraz will take a 4-2 head-to-head advantage, although Medvedev leads 2-1 in major meetings (winning at Wimbledon in 2021 and the US Open 2023 and losing on Centre Court last year).

“He’s a really great player. The same semifinal as last year and hopefully I’m going to get the same result,” Alcaraz said, responding to a question about a Wimbledon rematch with Medvedev. “He just beat Jannik Sinner, the best player right now, so I know he is in really good shape. I have to play my best, I have to believe in myself and try to keep going if I want to beat him. It is going to be a difficult one, but I’m going to enjoy it.”

Vekic reaches first major semifinal in 43rd appearance

Donna Vekic reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in 43 major appearances by relying on her experience. It’s something the 28-year-old from Croatia brought plenty of with her into her Wimbledon quarterfinal.

Tuesday afternoon on No. 1 Court, with the roof closed, the World No. 37 Vekic pulled off a come-from-behind victory that ended the surprising run of 123rd-ranked qualifier Lulu Sun of New Zealand, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, in two hours and six minutes. The victory, which moved Vekic to within two wins of lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish in Saturday afternoon’s final, was the first loss handed to Sun, who won three rounds of qualifying to earn a main-draw berth — and kept right on winning all the way through the fourth round.

Sun, 23, who was born on New Zealand’s South Island to a Chinese mother and Croatian father (though her stepfather is German-English) and has spent time living in Shanghai and Geneva, was attempting to become only the second qualifier to advance to the women’s singles semifinals at Wimbledon. She was appearing in just her second main draw of a Grand Slam.

Indeed, it’s been an unpredictable feel to the bottom half of the women’s draw this fortnight. However, Vekic made some sense of it all in her third major quarterfinal — and first at Wimbledon — with her 22nd victory of the season and 10th on grass. She’s the first Croatian woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Mirjana Lucic in 1999.

“Those couple of years [2021 and 2022] were very tough,” said the oft-injured Vekic, who had knee surgery back in 2021. “I didn’t think I was ever going to come back to the level that I even had last year.

“So this now, reaching my best result ever at a Slam, I’m really proud of myself, of the work that I’ve done, of the work that my team has done.”

According to the WTA Tour website, in the Open Era (since 1968), only Barbora Strycova (53), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (52), Elena Likhovtseva (46) and Roberta Vinci (44) needed more Grand Slam appearances to reach their first semifinal.

“Before the match, I was relaxed,” Vekic said in her post-match news conference. “The only moment where I was a bit more stressed out during the match was when I saw how well [Sun is] playing. It’s not that I didn’t expect her to play well. I knew she was going to come out swinging.

“I could not find the depth in my shots. I wasn’t executing my shots as well as I wanted to. That’s why I was, I don’t know, a little bit more stressed and tense. But at the end I managed to find my game.”

On Thursday, Vekic will play No. 7 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy, who eased past No. 19 seed Emma Navarro of the United States, 6-2, 6-1, in 58 minutes on Centre Court with the roof closed. It was her first win in four meetings against the American.

The victory advanced Paolini, 28, to her second major semifinal after reaching the finals of last month’s French Open. It was also a history-making occasion for Paolini. She’s the first woman from her country to reach a Wimbledon semifinal.

After trailing by a break early at 2-1, Paolini turned the match around by winning 11 of the next 12 games. She finished with 19 winners to just six for Navarro and both made 12 unforced errors. Paolini, who converted five of six break points, outpointed Navarro 54-31.

“It’s so special. It’s a dream to be in this position,” Paolini said in her on-court interview. “I was watching finals when I was a kid on this court. It’s strange to be here and get the win and be in the semifinal of Wimbledon. I feel so happy.

“I have to say today I played a really good match. She’s a really tough opponent. I lost to her three times in the last year. So it was tough. But I think I played a really really good match.”

Looking ahead to Thursday, Paolini leads her career head-to-head against Vekic 2-1. This will be their first meeting on grass.

Around the All England Club

Due to persistent rain and delays throughout the first eight days of the Wimbledon fortnight, the tournament scheduling committee announced Tuesday that the Mixed Doubles final, which was originally scheduled to be held on Thursday, has been moved to Sunday following the Men’s Singles final. On Saturday, the Women’s Singles final will be followed by the Men’s Doubles final and the Women’s Doubles final.

Tuesday’s Wimbledon results

Wednesday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

The Jannik SinnerDaniil Medvedev quarterfinal was the 12th meeting for the two Top 5 competitors – their second at a Grand Slam – and first on grass. Medvedev won the first six matches they contested, then Sinner won next five meetings – including their only previous meeting at a Grand Slam, in the final at this year’s Australian Open. Now, Medvedev has turned the pendulum in his favor after winning Tuesday’s five-set quarterfinal over Sinner.

“Quotable …”

“Every Ukrainian is using their own way to raise awareness, to raise money, to help in every possible way they can. My way is through tennis.

“I try to focus on my job and what I can control. Just do what I can. At least my win today was a small light that brought a happy moment for Ukrainian people. I got so many messages. The people are thankful for my performance.

“Normally you think all day about your match and how you will play. Since this morning, I felt in a fog with my thoughts and my feelings inside… all those images in my head about the children, all those horrible things. 

“I just wanted to be in my room. For us Ukrainians, it’s very close to our heart and very sensitive emotions that we feel every single day.

“Today was even more difficult because the missile landed on the kids’ hospital. Straight away you see the images and everything that happened there. So many kids lost their lives.

“We feel guilt at feeling happy or good – not only because I’m in the quarterfinal here, but in everything. You go on holiday; you feel guilty because you’re not in Ukraine. Many people cannot leave the country. Many people are fighting, defending our front lines. We’ve been living with this feeling for over two years.

“Talking to other Ukrainian athletes, I feel like we are almost as powerful as some people representing our government. Every single week we are competing on the big stages, representing not only ourselves but also Ukrainian people.

“It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of weight on the shoulders. But I feel honored to be one of the faces of Ukraine. I do my best every single day to give this to my people.”

— No. 21 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, from her post-match news conference after defeating Wang Xinyu of China Monday to advance to the quarterfinals against No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina. Svitolina is an ambassador for United24, the official fundraising platform of Ukraine.